Curriculum Vitae (PDF)
"The Politics of ‘the Army You Have’: Change and Continuity in the U.S. Military, 1972-2008"
David Plotke (chair), Victoria Hattam, Edward Rhodes
What causes political institutions to transform? Engaging with literatures of American and comparative politics not generally used to analyze military organizations, I develop a micropolitical perspective on change. The core claim holds that the discourses and strategic efforts of mid-level agents play a central role in both maintaining order and effecting change. To test this argument, I compare U.S. Army development through four decades after the Vietnam War. I examine declassified documents, officers’ writings, and interviews to understand why and how mid-level officers changed their views of their missions. At times, as in the 1990s, this gradual process created a gap between the discourses of these officers and the Army’s favored way of war. In the subsequent decade, entrepreneurs inside the Army took advantage of the mismatch between the top and the middle and worked with outsiders to overhaul the Army’s paradigm. My account shows that even in a hierarchical institution like the Army, major change can be driven from the inside and from the middle. It holds promise for the study of institutions and policy regimes more generally.
I am a historical institutionalist who works on continuity and change in institutions, policy regimes, and political cultures. My scholarship engages most closely with literatures of comparative historical analysis and American political development. I compare political phenomena over long periods to understand the forces that shape them, and to analyze whether those forces have changed. Within periods, my methods are historical and interpretive. I use archival sources and interviews to understand how agents create structures, how structures constrain agents, and how agents can reshape structures to achieve their goals. One future project will examine the shifts among conservatives in their ideas about American power projection. Another will analyze the strategies that the California Republican Party is using to become relevant in statewide politics.
Short writing sample (PDF)
Teaching Experience/Courses Taught
American Political Thought in Historical Perspective; 20th Century International Politics; Politics: The Foundations.
Intro to American Politics (PDF)
American Political Change in Theoretical and Historical Perspective (PDF)